Joshua vs Wilder: Rematch clause a possibility

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Expect a rematch clause as part of the deal should WBA/IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KO) agree face WBC kingpin Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KO) in 2018.

Although (to our knowledge) it has yet to be discussed, a one-way rematch clause would certainly make sense if you're Eddie Hearn and Team Joshua. Hence, in this scenario, Wilder would have to commit to giving Joshua an immediate rematch but the latter wouldn’t have to make the same promise.

Seem familiar?

Earlier this year, Canelo Alvarez's team forced Team Golovkin agree to the same (or something similar) provision and it was a wise move. Now, Team Canelo not only gets another shot to topple Golovkin, Golden Boy Promotions, Canelo's promoter, is guaranteed another big payday.

Stacking the odds in Joshua's favor
Throughout boxing history, only a popular champion or (non title-holding) fight legend has ever had the leverage to demand an immediate rematch as a prerequisite to coming to terms to fight. And at this moment, Anthony Joshua, because of his popularity in Europe and superior purse sums, would clearly be in the driver's seat. As the A-side, AJ can make more demands than Wilder because the former is the bigger attraction and ticket seller.

Should a rematch clause be invoked, Hearn & Co. would essentially be saying: Wilder must beat AJ twice to dethrone him as boxing's top heavyweight.

This would prohibit Wilder from subsequently seeking other challenges in the event he won the fight. Moreover, Hearn knows the odds of defeating a fighter like Joshua in back-to-back fights are significantly lower than defeating him once. Also, and this is key, an immediate rematch would lock down another superfight payday for Hearn & Co.

So, how would Hearn be able to get away with this?

Wilder needs AJ more than AJ needs him
Joshua is already a big star in Europe while Wilder is still an unknown quantity in his native USA. Moreover, AJ is considered the concensus champion by the boxing community.

Should Joshua vs Wilder happen, Team Joshua would dictate the rules and Wilder would have no alternative but to submit to their desires.

Let's face it... Joshua can pack a house and earn a whopping $13 Million by fighting anyone. Wilder, on the other-hand, can't come close to earning $2 Million fighting in the States, regardless the opponent.

Purported purses for a few of Wilder's previous bouts....

Nov 2017 - $1.4 Million vs Stiverne (rematch)
Mar 2017 - $900,000 vs Washington
July 2016- $1.4 Million vs Arreola 
Jan 2016 - $1.5 Million vs Szpilka
Jun 2015 - $1.4 Million vs Molina 
Jan 2015 - $1 Million vs Bermane Stiverne


But rematch clauses can't be enforced, right?

Hasim Rahman, after upsetting Lennox Lewis in 2001, was offered $19.25 million to make his first defense against their premier fighter Mike Tyson.  HBO countered with a $17 million offer to meet Lewis in a rematch. Rahman, however, turned down both offers and instead opted to take a less lucrative fight against fringe contender David Izon that would net him $5 million.

... But, hold on. Lewis had a rematch clause installed in the contract for his previous fight with Rahman. It stated that Rahman, if victorious, would have to face Lewis in his first title defense.

In fact, it was settled in court when a judge ruled in Lewis' favor, insisting Rahman and Lewis agreed to a rematch to take place on November 17 of that year.

The rematch would happen on that very day and Lewis, in dominant fashion, would regain his title.

Look for Hearn & Co to a) have a rematch clause inserted into the Joshua vs Wilder contract, b) demand promotional options on Wilder's next several bouts, or c) both a and b.

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